Saturday, April 29, 2017

Advice for Choosing Historical Fiction

I've actually gotten the idea from talking to my brother-in-law, who mentioned he wanted to visit my blog and see which historical fiction I might recommend. Dedicated to Logan W. for idea

If someone is to ask me what kind of historical fiction I would recommend, first of all I might freeze because historical fiction is very broad, and not just in different time periods. I've had a chance to read historical fiction novels that take place about 10,000 years ago to ones that take place in 1980s (ugh why is 1980s historical fiction? Am I that old?) And it's not just time periods, it's also what type of historical fiction one might enjoy. Do you want to read stories that focus more on psychology, drama and intrigue, ones that are detailed, or do you want to read stories that are focused more on fighting and battles? There are no wrong answers in deciding what to read or enjoy. So, what type of period are you interested in? What continent will the time period be set in?

In how to get started, first of all figure out what type of period you might want to learn more about, maybe you want to know more about WWII, or more about American Revolution, or even more about China. Some time periods, like WWII are extremely broad in terms of historical fiction because the whole world joined in WWII,  and if one is to narrow that down, maybe to Europe, then let's think what country and from who's point of view you would like to read. (Maybe more about German Jews, maybe about countries that were forcibly taken over by Germans, maybe about American soldiers during WWII, maybe even a fantasy or a mystery set during WWII)

About Me:

I love historical fiction and read and review very frequently on my blog. Thanks to some wonderful book tours in past and present, I've gotten to know a lot of wonderful authors and literature which I'll be happy to recommend. I love psychology, drama and intrigue when it comes to historical fiction. I love getting to know the people behind the events and seeing their growth in different ways. This is a short list, and by no means exhaustive.

Here are my favorite historical fiction reads in no particular order

1. Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell

Summary: Gone with the wind explores the depths of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the bluff red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it brings the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction vividly to life.

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, ruthless daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War sweep away the life for which her upbringing has prepared her. After the fall of Atlanta she returns to the plantation and by stubborn shrewdness saves her home from both Sherman and the carpetbaggers. But in the process she hardens. She has neared starvation and she vows never to be hungry again.
In these vivid pages live the unforgettable people who have captured the attention of millions of readers-of every age, in every walk of life. Here are Rhett Butler, Scarlett’s counterpart, a professional scoundrel as courageous as Scarlett herself; Melanie Wilkes, a loyal friend and true gentlewoman; and Ashley Wilkes, for whom the world ended at Appomattox. Here are all the characters and memorable episodes that make Gone with the Wind a book to read and re-read and remember forever.

Why I Love it: Aside from unfortunate racism of the time, what's not to love about this wonderful book? It's extremely detailed when it comes Scarlet O'Hara and her life a bit prior, during and after Civil War. There is a lot of psychology when it comes to figuring out Scarlet and watching her grow from a spoiled southern belle to a resourceful woman who refuses to be dependent on anyone. Scarlet is someone you love to hate. Also, it's a type of book that you just want to keep going on and on. (Seriously, 1000+ pages is too short.)

2. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George

Summary: This is the story of England's most famous, and notorious, king.

Henry was a charismatic, ardent - and brash - young lover who married six times; a scholar with a deep love of poetry and music; an energetic hunter who loved the outdoors; a monarch whose lack of a male heir haunted him incessantly; and a ruthless leader who would stop at nothing to achieve his desires. His monumental decision to split from Rome and the Catholic Church was one that would forever shape the religious and political landscape of Britain.

Combining magnificent storytelling with an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, Margaret George delivers a vivid portrait of Henry VIII and Tudor England and the powerhouse of players on its stage: Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. It is also a narrative told from an original perspective: Margaret George writes from the King's point of view, injecting irreverent comments from Will Somers - Henry's jester and confidant.

Why I Love it: When I say that the author has talent and ability to get into Henry VIII's head, I am not joking. I honestly felt transported back in time, sitting next to Henry VIII and listening to him describe his life in great amount of detail. I love the details, feeling as if I am living in late 1490s to 1500s and being part of Henry VIII's life. PS: The author has recently released her first book about Nero, (have to wait until October of 2018 for part 2 to come out...) which is also a wonderful read, so be sure to check it out.

3. The Golem and the Djini by Helene Wecker

Summary: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Why I Love it: It's a fantasy, philosophical, unique and very beautifully written. The author truly brings to life the New York of early 20th century through Chava's and Djini's eyes. I may have read it years ago, but I still recall the wonder and amazement of the sentences.

4. The Color of Light by Helen Maryles Shankman

Summary:NEW YORK CITY, 1992. At the American Academy of Classical Art, popular opinion has it that the school’s handsome and mysterious founder, Raphael Sinclair, is a vampire. It is a rumor Rafe does nothing to dispel.

Scholarship student Tessa Moss has long dreamed of the chance to study at Rafe’s Academy. But she is floundering amidst the ups and downs of a relationship with egotistical art star Lucian Swain.
Then, one of Tessa’s sketches catches Rafe’s attention: a drawing of a young woman in 1930s clothing who is covering the eyes of a child. The suitcase at her feet says Wizotsky. Sofia Wizotsky, the love of Rafe’s life, was lost during the Holocaust.

Or was she? Rafe suspects Tessa may be the key to discovering what really happened.

As Rafe finds excuses to interact with Tessa, they cannot deny their growing attraction to one another. It is an attraction forbidden by the Academy Board and disapproved of by anyone familiar with Rafe’s playboy reputation and Tessa’s softhearted innocence.

But Tessa senses the truth: despite his wealth, his women, and his townhouse filled with rare and beautiful treasures, Rafe is a haunted man…for reasons that have nothing to do with the rumors they whisper about him at school.

Intensely romantic and deeply moving, The Color of Light blends fact and fantasy in an unforgettable tale of art and passion, love and war, guilt and forgiveness, spanning the New York art scene, high-fashion magazine publishing, the glittering café society of pre-World War II Paris, and the evil stalking the back roads of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Why I Love it: Umm, two words that I doubt I'll ever use to describe a book: vampires plus Holocaust. Like The Golem and the Djini, it's also a heartbreaking and wonderful read about a man whose dreams were shattered and who is trying to survive.

5. The Prince's Doom by David Blixt

Summary: The explosive fourth novel in the Star-Cross'd series! Verona has won its war with Padua, lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona, but the stars themselves.

For once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the many plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake Cesco out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, and will only to doom them all.

Why I Love it: I cannot believe that I read Prince's Doom few years back because it's yet another book that stayed with me even if I read it once. Although it's part of the series, it's a good stand-alone, and will encourage the reader to get the previous three books. Francesco 'Cesco' is perhaps one of my favorite male characters crush because of his wittiness, charm and ability to poke at himself. I found myself laughing and chuckling at a lot of numerous lines. Aside from Cesco, Italy of 1300s is vividly brought to life and despite the lenght it's an exciting and page-turning read. Okay, now I really must read the first three books...

Stay tuned for more of my historical fiction recommendations...

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